Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Anti-Columbus Day

Yesterday evening, I participated in a most unusual celebration. A small group of Whitworth undergrads invited me to observe Anti-Columbus Day by giving a lecture on Native American issues. When I arrived, the students were making fry bread from a recipe they found online. Earlier that evening, they had played an adapted version of an ancient Mesoamerican ball game - also found online. They freely admitted that they possessed very little direct knowledge of Native people, but their sincere desire to learn inspired me.

I spoke about the history of the Spokane Tribe without whitewashing the inconvenient details of the American conquest. I spoke about Colonel George Wright and the horse slaughter, the boarding schools and sexual abuse, and many other other unfortunate aspects of history. After all, these stories belong to the long-term legacy of Columbus. But I also spoke of courage, dignity, and the will of Indian cultures to survive into the next 500 years and beyond.

No doubt, I shared some difficult stories, but these young students listened with deep interest and respect. They give me hope for a more equitable future in this country.

Not long after I spoke to the Whitworth students, I found quite a compelling TED video by Aaron Huey regarding the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Usually I don't forward videos, but this one deserves to be seen by a wide audience.


Lowell said...

As a former teacher of American history, I applaud all efforts to tell it like it really was. And Columbus was not a nice man. The damage he personally inflicted on the native populations and the damage that ensued after him is incalculable!

Percy said...

I am sad. I hope there is more I can do. I don't take ownership for the violence of other people in previous generations, because that is not in my heart. But I do take ownership, as much as I can, for the world we live in today, its problems, and the difficulties and beauty of its people. Thank you for sharing this video.


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